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Pandemic hits council finances like 'tsunami of horror'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Covid-19 has hit a council’s finances like “a tsunami of horror” which could seriously affect services for the coming years, according to the authority's deputy leader.

Jane Scullion
LDRS

Jane Scullion told Calderdale Council's cabinet on Monday the pandemic had brought increased costs and vastly reduced income.

She said government help would cover around £13.6m of an estimated £17.7m budget deficit this year and of the remainder the council needs to find around £3.7m in savings.

But she said lost revenue, including an estimated £10m in lost Council Tax and Business Rate due to coronavirus, would have implications for budgets for a number of years to come.

Mrs Scullion said she feared things were "going to get worse" and warned the council may have to run to a "business critical model" with the authority only running those core services it has to provide by law.

“I sound like Job, but really, really this is very serious for the council," she said.

Yorkshire's Thursday weather forecast

BBC Weather

A misty and muggy start today, becoming largely dry and warm, with areas of cloud around.

The cloud will disperse in the afternoon to allow for some sunny spells.

Tonight will be mostly dry and mild with large areas of cloud and light southerly winds:

Weather graphic
BBC

Fines brought in to enforce new coronavirus rules

New rules making it illegal for people from different households to meet in a private home or garden have come in to force in parts of West Yorkshire.

Coronavirus testing centre, Bradford
PA Media

Fines ranging from £100 up to £3,200 can now be issued to anyone caught breaking the regulations.

The new restrictions were announced late on Thursday night following a spike in cases of Covid-19 in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees as well as in Greater Manchester and east Lancashire

What is the law from 5 August?

Restrictions:

  • No gatherings in private dwellings of two or more people within the protected area
  • Someone living in the protected area cannot meet anyone else inside a private dwelling outside the area
  • Both of these apply only if the people are from different households or protective bubbles

Exemptions:

  • Attending someone giving birth, at their request
  • Visiting if they "reasonably believe" someone is dying as long as they are a close family member or a close friend (or anyone if the dying person has no close family or friends)
  • Fulfilling legal obligations
  • Necessary for work, volunteering, education, registered childcare
  • Providing emergency assistance or avoiding injury
  • Moving house
  • Continue access to children with separated parents

A dwelling does not include hotels, hostels, care homes and children's homes.

Details of new West Yorkshire restrictions published

Kevin Larkin

Political reporter, BBC Radio Leeds

The new restrictions in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale have now been given legal power thanks to new documents published today.

A man wears a mask in Bradford
PA Media

The new laws, which come in to force from Wednesday, allow West Yorkshire Police to issue £100 fines to people who break the rules which were brought in last week.

The fines also double each time someone breaks the rules up to a huge £3,200.

Details are also out of some of the exemptions.

These range from matters of life and death - allowing midwives to enter homes to help with births and also allowing family and friends to say goodbye to dying relatives - to the more unusual - for example Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the areas can still train with a coach.

We also know now that a houseboat counts as a house for the purposes of the rules.

Although concerns still remain about how likely it is that West Yorkshire Police will be able to enforce the rules in practice.

They have until the law is reviewed by the 19 August to try and work it out.

Origami angels raise more than £130,000

Thousands of paper angels have taken flight above the nave of Ripon Cathedral where they will flutter above worshippers throughout August and September.

Origami angels
Ripon Cathedral

About 10,000 of the origami creations were handmade by more than 100 volunteers during the coronavirus lockdown and feature prayers offered to loved ones and key workers.

The project has so far raised over £130,000, which will be split between the cathedral and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Angels above the nave
Ripon Cathedral

The cathedral's Canon Michael Gisbourne told BBC Radio York's Georgey Spanswick the angels cover the whole length and width of the nave - you can hear the interview by clicking this link.

Government to invest £115m in Covid-19 recovery projects

The Government has announced more than 50 projects across Yorkshire will share £115m to build homes, infrastructure and create jobs as part of the region's economic recovery from coronavirus.

digger
PA Media

The successful projects will receive a portion of the £900 million Getting Building Fund which was announced by the Prime Minister in June.

Among the projects to benefit are upgrades to cycling infrastructure in East Yorkshire, improvements to Barnsley town centre, the redevelopment of the George Hotel in Huddersfield and improving older terraced homes in the Holbeck area of Leeds.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, which secured more than £33m, said: "This investment will strengthen our digital infrastructure, improve learning spaces within our schools and colleges, support businesses and create new walking and cycling infrastructure.

"It will help our effort to make South Yorkshire stronger, greener and fairer as we build back from COVID."

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake, which was awarded £18m, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding as it will allow us to press ahead with three shovel-ready schemes in Leeds.

"These are all projects that will help reduce our city’s carbon impact and help the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic."

Yorkshire's Monday weather forecast

BBC Weather

A dry day with sunny spells, with cloud developing in the afternoon and a few thundery showers later.

Tonight there will be some patchy cloud with the occasional shower, but it will become dry with clear spells as the night progresses:

Weather graphic
BBC

Halifax MP thanks people observing new coronavirus rules

The MP for Halifax has thanked people in parts of West Yorkshire for observing new rules banning separate households from meeting each other at home, after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Holly Lynch
UK Parliament

People in parts of northern England, including Calderdale, Bradford and Kirklees, are now not allowed to meet in homes or private gardens.

Individual households will still be able to go to pubs and restaurants, but not mix with another household.

The timing of the new restrictions, which were announced late last night, is expected to have a major impact on Eid celebrations.

Writing on social media, MP Holly Lynch said: "I know this is not how Muslims across Calderdale, Kirklees and Bradford had hoped to spend Eid al-Adha, but thank you for observing the new rules.

"Let's keep each other safe - best wishes for a safe, joyous and blessed day."

'We need to get on top of infection again' - Council boss

Plans to reduce the rate of coronavirus cases in Calderdale have been discussed at the highest level of government, the leader of the council says.

A man wearing a face mask walks through the centre of Bradford
PA Media

Calderdale is one of the areas affected by new lockdown rules in parts of West Yorkshire which ban members of separate households meeting each other indoors.

The measures were introduced last night following a spike in coronavirus cases in parts of northern England, including Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

The chief executive of Calderdale Council, Robin Tuddenham, says: "We've been an area of concern now for a week, our neighbouring areas have been a concern a bit longer.

"We do know the rate of infection has been increasing in Calderdale and we've been talking to the government about the kind of action we might take with them and our communities to reduce the risk.

"We are concerned and we do need to get on top of this infection again," he added.

Watch: Your questions answered on new local lockdown

BBC Look North

New local lockdown restrictions have been introduced in some parts of West Yorkshire today.

The rules ban separate households in Calderdale, Kirklees and Bradford from meeting each other at home after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

We're answering any questions you might have with BBC Yorkshire's political editor James Vincent and virologist Professor Mark Harris:

View more on facebook

Local lockdown 'not postcode-based' - Bradford Council

People who pay council tax to specific councils are affected by the new local coronavirus lockdown rules, according to one West Yorkshire council.

A Covid-19 testing centre in Bradford
Danny Lawson/PA Media

Some social media users have expressed confusion over who is affected by new rules which were brought in overnight in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Following a spike in coronavirus cases in those areas, they will now be subject to extra rules.

Designed to slow the spread of the virus, separate households living in those areas have been banned from meeting each other indoors and in their gardens.

Bradford Council says the lockdown is not based on specific postcodes, but rather on who you pay your council tax to.

Breaking'Higher risk settings' reopenings postponed

As coronavirus infection rates begin to rise again in England, the government has postponed the reopening of "high risk settings" such as casinos and bowling alleys for a fortnight.

Boris Johnson
PA Media

At a press conference, Boris Johnson said the government needed to take "swift, decisive action", and would "squeeze the break pedal" on reopening society.

Changes to wedding celebrations will also be postponed, he added.

The PM says people in England would also be encouraged to wear face coverings in new settings - such as museums - from 8 August.

The prime minister said planned reopenings for 1 August will be postponed for a fortnight.

At a national press conference Boris Johnson said: "With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal... in order to keep the virus under control.

"That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close-contact services must remain closed.

"Indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted."

Boris Johnson said: "I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people, to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted or who cannot now celebrate Eid in the way that they would wish. And I'm really, really sorry about that but we cannot simply take the risk."

'Further clarity' needed on new lockdown - Halifax MP

There is a lack of clarity on the new local lockdown rules being imposed for West Yorkshire, according to one MP representing an affected area.

Halifax
Danny Lawson/PA Media

Last night, health secretary Matt Hancock said that following a spike in coronavirus cases in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, those areas would be subject to extra rules.

Designed to slow the spread of the virus, separate households living in those areas have been banned from meeting each other indoors and in their gardens.

But Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax has criticised the government's announcement saying there was a lack of clarity.

She said: "I am calling on government to provide more information and further clarity about these new changes as quickly as possible.

"People understand the seriousness of the situation, but there are some ambiguities and inconsistencies in this information."

From midnight, people living in the affected areas can't visit other homes or gardens, but can meet up with people in outside spaces like public parks, government guidelines say.

'Continue to be vigilant' - Imam on Eid under lockdown

A West Yorkshire Imam is urging people to "remain safe and vigilant" during Eid al-Adha celebrations, as new coronavirus measures come into force banning members of separate households meeting each other indoors in parts of West Yorkshire.

Mask
Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The measures were introduced last night following a spike in coronavirus cases in parts of northern England, including Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Usually during Eid, Muslims will go to special prayers at their local mosque and have a day of celebrations with family and friends.

But Leeds Imam Qari Asim says festivities at home are "just as effective as those in larger groups".

Mr Asim says: “I, along with Imams across the country, advise people to continue to be vigilant and respectful in their celebrations.

“There has been a sense of deflation and disappointment as restrictions have been placed on Hajj for the first time in such a manner, but we are not alone.

"Other faith communities have had to make sacrifices. We hope these spiritual sacrifices will enable us all to defeat Covid-19 together."

Yorkshire's Friday weather forecast

BBC Weather

A dry and hot day for most with plenty of sunshine.

Later in the afternoon, some patchy cloud will build up, with the small chance of some showers.

This evening cloud will thicken, with the possibility of further showers moving in:

Weather graphic
BBC

Parts of West Yorkshire included in home visits ban

Separate households have been banned from meeting each other indoors in parts of West Yorkshire following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the increase in transmission was "largely due" to people not observing social distancing.

The new local lockdown rules come nearly four weeks after restrictions were eased across England, allowing people to meet indoors for the first time since late March.

More than four million residents of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale, will be affected by the tightening of restrictions.

Mr Hancock, who tweeted the announcement at 21:16 on Thursday, said: "From midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas."

The measures mean different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens. Individual households will still be able to go to pubs and restaurants but not mix with another household.

The government acknowledged the measures would "come as a blow" to Muslim communities preparing to celebrate Eid this weekend, although places of worship remain open subject to social distancing rules.

Yorkshire's Thursday weather forecast

BBC Weather

A cloudy day with outbreaks of rain, some of which could be heavy at times, but which should clear in the afternoon.

A dry, mild, night is expected with clear skies and a light wind:

Weather graphic
BBC

Robots used to clean airport in coronavirus fight

Robots that can clean door handles and seats are being trialed at a Yorkshire airport to see if they can help in the fight against the coronavirus.

Robot cleaner
SELF-REPAIRING CITIES

The University of Leeds has been using the machines at Leeds Bradford Airport and in Leeds city centre where they spray objects with a mist of diluted alcohol.

The robots use artificial intelligence to identify objects that need regular cleaning, like seats, bike stands or doors.

They then work together to avoid crashing into things or people.

The project, which involves the universities of Leeds and Birmingham, and University College London, was set up in May to look at how robots can help slow the spread of the virus.

Dr Mohammed Shaqura, from the University of Leeds, said: “The aim is to have robots that can regularly disinfect those spaces, doing away with the need for people to clean them and the risks they would face in becoming contaminated themselves.

“We are using machine learning techniques to have the robots fully autonomous, so they "know" which objects need cleaning – and will only require high-level supervision from operators.”

Jobs under threat as Piece Hall 'hit hard' by pandemic

Staff working at Halifax's 18th Century Piece Hall are facing redundancy after the venue said it had been "hit hard" by the coronavirus pandemic.

Halifax's Piece Hall
Dave Pickersgill/Geograph

Chief Executive Nicky Chance-Thompson said its operational income had dropped by about 80% as a result of the outbreak.

She said the former cloth trading hall had managed to "successfully and safely" reopen following lockdown but had been forced to make "short-term decisions to ensure a successful long-term future".

In a statement, she said despite now being open and welcoming some customers back "we have begun a redundancy consultation with staff".

In December a report by Bradshaw Advisory said the Piece Hall generates about £7m each year for the local economy

Yorkshire's Wednesday weather forecast

BBC Weather

Today, under the influence of high pressure, it will be a fine and dry day with sunny periods throughout. Some patches of cloud look set to develop during the day.

Tonight will be largely dry with clear spells. As the night progresses, it will turn cloudier with a chance of patchy rain in places. A milder night.

weather graphic
BBC

'Unacceptable' rise in attacks on police during pandemic

There's been a big increase in violence towards police in West Yorkshire during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Police officers
PA Media

Attacks on West Yorkshire Police officers are up 45%, with 371 attacks between 25 May and 12 July, compared with 255 for the same period last year, the force says - that's an increase of 116.

Assistant Ch Con Tim Kingsman said the rise in assaults on officers during the lockdown was "very disappointing".

He said: “Police officers and staff work tirelessly to keep communities safe and any form of assault on those who put themselves at risk to help others is absolutely unacceptable.

"I want to make it clear we will seek to prosecute in each and every case where a member of emergency services staff is attacked."

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, says punishment for those who attack its members isn't tough enough.

ADHD system 'broken' with five-year waiting times

The system for diagnosing adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is "broken" with some people having to wait up to five years to be assessed, the BBC has found.

Lisa Kirby
BBC

Freedom of Information requests to NHS trusts found at least 21,000 adults on waiting lists for ADHD services.

One patient who was told to wait two years for a diagnosis said: "There are people out there absolutely desperate."

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYP) said one man had waited 1,842 days before assessment - more than five years - with two women waiting 1,788 and 1,455 days before their first assessment in 2019.

The trust does not have a target time. Its average wait was more than a year.

Consultant psychiatrist Prof Marios Adamou said the SWYP Trust had worked "to find solutions to reduce waiting times and increase access to the adult ADHD service".

He said "despite dealing with an unprecedented pandemic" the trust had asked for more money to increase the capacity of the service and a "new clinical pathway" put in since April had "the potential to reduce waiting lists further".

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are determined to see improvements in access to ADHD services and as part of the NHS Long Term Plan children and young people with neurodevelopmental disorders will receive better support throughout the diagnostic process, backed by an extra £33.9 billion a year for the NHS."

Yorkshire's Tuesday weather forecast

Today, there will be a mixture of sunny spells and a few showers throughout the day. A cool and breezy day for many with a brisk north-westerly wind.

Any showers will tend to ease and then die out as the night progresses. There will be clear spells developing and some areas of cloud too.

weather graphic
BBC

Man attacked and car stolen in Halifax street

A man was assaulted and his car was stolen after he was flagged down by a group of men in Halifax, police have revealed.

Battinson Road, Halifax
Google

The attack happened at about 23:50 on Monday 20 July on Battinson Road, when the 33-year-old man stopped his car.

The victim was assaulted by three or four males who then made off in the man's grey Audi S4 estate with the registration number MD66, according to West Yorkshire Police.

He was not seriously injured in the attack.

The first suspect is described as white, about 40, approximately 6ft tall, of medium, lean build and wearing a balaclava, a white polo top, a black zip-up hoodie and black tracksuit bottoms.

The second suspect is described as skinny, wearing all black clothing and a balaclava.

The third suspect is believed to be white, wearing all black clothing and a balaclava and he is thought to speak with a Scouse accent.

Anyone who saw what happened, has information about the attack, or who saw the Audi at about the time of the incident, is being asked to get in touch with police.

Yorkshire's Monday weather forecast

BBC Weather

Outbreaks of showery rain today, accompanied by gusty winds. Rain may be heavy at times, with a slight chance of some thunder and lightning.

Windy this evening, with a few showers passing through, clearing eastwards. It will then turn largely dry and clear overnight, although the odd shower will blow in from the northwest.

weather graphic
BBC

Yorkshire's Friday weather forecast

BBC Weather

A fine day with spells of sunshine, gentle winds and occasional showers in the afternoon.

This evening will see late spells of sunshine with cloud and showers increasing overnight:

Weather graphic
BBC

Yorkshire shoppers urged to 'be sensible' over face masks

People across Yorkshire are being urged to use common sense and conform to new rules on the wearing of face masks in shops and supermarkets to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

A shopper wears a facemask as she walks in the city centre of Leeds.
AFP/Getty

From today, coverings are compulsory in enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and takeaways.

Police can hand out fines of up to £100 to those who do not comply.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “Controlling the spread of the virus is a vital part of trying to return to a more normal way of life.

“Clearly, it's never going to be possible for officers to respond to every report of someone not wearing a mask, so we need everyone to be sensible and to do their part to ensure we stop the spread of coronavirus."

Meanwhile, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: "The primary responsibility for ensuring people wear masks has to lie with the shops themselves, because there simply aren't enough officers to police this."

Transpennine rail upgrade to get £600m kick-start

Long-awaited improvements to rail services in the north of England will get a £589m kick-start, the government has announced - with most of the money being used on electrifying the line between Leeds and Manchester.

Leeds station
Getty Images

The Transpennine route upgrade was first announced in 2011 and a modified £2.9bn scheme was confirmed in 2019.

A new body to speed up transport investment across the north is also being set up, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said.

The improvements include electrification and a doubling of the number of tracks on the most congested sections around Leeds and Huddersfield, allowing faster trains to overtake slower ones.

Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps said people in the north "rightly expect action, progress and ambition".

"This government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region's infrastructure," he added.

He said full electrification, improved digital signalling and doubling of tracks elsewhere on the line were under consideration as part of an Integrated Rail Plan.

This would allow all-electric services between Leeds, York, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, offering increased service frequency and capacity.